President Nacho- Week 1 Roundup

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January 30, 2017 by JImbo

I’ve waited until a full work week was in to comment on the new President’s policies. I aim to give him the benefit of the doubt, just as I did for President Obama, President Bush and President Clinton. The “First 100 Day’s” tradition is generally accepted as a grace period to see what they get done once they have had time to get their team on board and start some projects. Before that it’s just too early to tell.

My standards are generally two-fold.

  1. The primary standard is “Does the President uphold the Constitution?”

2) Secondary to that is “Is it good or bad for the country?”

 

I don’t give a crap about PARTY. I’m neither Democrat nor Republican.

I don’t give a crap about POLITICS. It’s fun, but in the end it’s just a game. Results matter.

I don’t give a crap about PERSONALITIES. The Presidency is a job, not a friendship. It’s not about who you want to have a beer with. It’s about hiring the right person to do the job they are assigned.

The only thing that matters are PRINCIPLES. The Constitution and what’s good for America. Beneath that, Individual Liberty is the reason our country was founded and why we have a government. If it fails to protect that, our government has failed at its primary goal.

Feedback would be appreciated. I’ve noticed folks don’t like to comment directly on the blog for some reason, but the Facebook feed is always open and Twitter. I’d like to hear your perspectives on these things, Left, Right, Center or Liberty.

Alright so where to begin?

Well, since the President has no actual laws in the works to promote that leaves essentially two directions as an outlet for his energies. On the one hand, he has been appointing cabinet leaders. On the other hand, he has been signing executive orders.

To be fair Congress has a large role in approving appointees so it’s been a slow process. New York’s very own Senator Chuck Schumer has been delivering on his promise to “delay everything possible from this Administration.” Not on principles (crocodile tears notwithstanding) but just because that’s what Democrats do, right? They have to stop Republicans! (And vice versa. It’s about putting your party before principles you see.)

So far the Cabinet picks have been impressive. General James Mattis is leading the Department of Defense. He’s perfect for the job, as a combat vet and an outstanding leader. I have yet to find a soldier that doesn’t have high praise for the man’s patriotism and personal integrity.

General John F. Kelly for Homeland Security isn’t quite as good, but still decent. I personally think we should just give the border patrol stuff to the military and privatize the rest. It’s in the airlines’ interest to have the best security possible so their airplanes don’t blow up and the TSA is a joke, but again that’s Congress’s job to abolish that shit-show.

While we’re add it, who would take care of vets at the VA better than the soldiers themselves? And why does the Dept of Energy have control over our nuclear weapons? It’s like Jimmy Carter had a hard on for boning the military back in the 1970s. Just leave the violent stuff to the military and we could cut the number of cabinet positions in half!

Anyway, back to where we are.

That’s all we have in the “Cabinet” so far.

There are other people in Cabinet meetings however and at that level, although not officially IN the “Cabinet.” The biggest of these is Reince Priebus as the White House Chief of Staff. He is the former Republican party boss..who was against Donald Trump in the primary. Not a bad choice to appoint some people who DON’T agree with you as President. Abraham Lincoln did the same thing in the 1860s so that he wouldn’t be surrounded by “yes-men” sycophants.

The other high level appointment is former South Carolina Governor Nikki Hayley as the Ambassador to the United Nations. Another good choice. South Carolina is a major exporting state with lots of foreign businesses (Toyota, etc) She has a proven track record for integrity and patriotism.

The rest are being held up by the Democrats.

That will be roadblock will further become apparent when they start holding up Trump’s Supreme Court pick tomorrow. The President isn’t announcing the pick till 8pm, but I expect it’ll be at least 8:02 before the Democrats are on television telling us why this guy is the spawn of Satan.

Without most of his leadership positions filled, Trump is working on putting policies out that will later be acted on once they get appointed. As such, most won’t be immediately felt, but later over time.

I will go over each one and briefly explain it from actually READING them, not just repeating what a certain source said.

Executive Order 13765 (Number 1)

“Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal”

In a nutshell, this order just says that agencies should grant as many waivers as possible and always err on the side of the people, not the government when it comes to Obamacare (ACA.) For example, if you are poor and hit by a fine that would make you bankrupt, it should be waived. If You miss a deadline and are to be fined, it should be waived. The argument is that since it is being repealed, why make it any harder on people?

Is it Constitutional?

Yes. The President has final say on all policies of Executive Depts not detailed by Congress.

Is it good for Americans?

Yes.

Executive Order 13766 (Number 2)

“Expediting Environmental Review and Approvals for High Priority Infrastructure Projects”

Falsely called the “Keystone Pipeline approval” order, it does much more than that. The reason that President Obama gave for stopping MANY projects has repeatedly been for “environmental studies” that have lasted for years. As such, they have stopped many projects by groups that can’t wait for years. It has also cost BILLIONS in delay costs and hurt many communities who had to pay for study after redundant study.

This bill sets a 30 day limit for the “initial review” process. The infrastructure project then goes either on a “fast track/high priority” level or is relegated to the basement for the loooooong, sloooooow process…effectively killing it. So, in laymans terms you know within 30 days whether you are a “go” or not. That’s not to say that a project can’t be stopped by what is found in the next year by some unforeseen circumstance. However, those “studies” too must be expedited into months, not years.

The bigger picture is that while this only relates to Federal projects (as it should, being a Federal order), it does trickled down to the states too, since some projects are both State and Federal regulated. Also, this is ALL “infrastructure” projects,  from highways to bridges to pipelines to the electrical grid. It will save years of paperwork and billions in wasted money.

Is it Constitutional?
Yes.

Is it good for Americans?
Yes.

Executive Order 13767 (Number 3)
“Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements”

This order simply restarts the work on the border fence that previous Congressional laws approved back in 1996 and 2006. President Obama paused the project. President Trump is unpausing it. No new law required. The funding was even set aside for it in the budget already (although he insists that “Mexico will pay us back.”)

Is it Constitutional?

Yes.

It just Is it good for Americans?

I would say yes. At worse a wall is pretty cheap. It comes out to about $100 a person. At best it will be of some use stopping drugs and terrorism. It’s really more of a symbolic political/social  issue than a monetary or political one.

Executive Order 13768 (Number 4)

“Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States”

This is the dreaded “Sanctuary Cities” one. There are actually three main parts to it.

1) It creates 7 “classes” of illegal immigrants, with priorities to be deported.

 

 

  1. a) Convicted criminals
  2. b) Pending convictions
  3. c) In process trials for criminal offenses
  4. d) Identity theft and Fraudulent documents (lying on forms)
  5. e) Welfare Fraud
  6. f) Those who have been politely asked to leave but have refused (overstayed VISAs, etc)
  7. g) Any non-citizens that pose a risk to public safety and national security

Since it’ll be YEARS before they get even all the criminals taken care of, the risk to actual illegals who haven’t broken major laws is pretty small.

2) Authorizes (with Congressional approval of more funds) the hiring of 10,000 more immigration agents to process the large number of illegals to be deported under part 1.

3) Any US municipalities refusing to follow Federal law can have their Federal grants stripped (except for Law Enforcement purposes….those are safe)

Is it Constitutional?

Yes.

Is it good for Americans?

Yes. Like the previous orders, it doesn’t really CHANGE anything, it just goes back to pre-Obama policies. It would be nice for the law to apply equally to everyone.

The next few haven’t been assigned numbers, but EOs are sequential and this is the order listed on the White House website chronologically)

Executive Order 13769? (Number 5)

“Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”

This is the “Muslim Ban”…that isn’t. The actual order is a 120-day pause in VISA applications from seven chaotic countries that have NOT been providing adequate background checks for its citizens who want to come here. Those countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somali, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The purpose isn’t to “ban Muslims.” It is to give those countries notice that their vetting systems SUCK. For the most part, it’s understandable since ALL of them are shit holes in the middle of civil wars and armed conflict. We can’t do any background checks on the folks there since their governments have basically collapsed (along with all government functions.) So, we can’t verify that ANYTHING on the applications these folks submit is accurate.

The 120-day pause gives both our agencies and the local authorities (where there are any, including foreign aid groups in war torn areas) time to try to set up alternative systems for weeding the “good guys” from the “bad guys.”

So, it’s not permanent.

It’s not based on “Muslim” or any religion.

It has only to do with countries that de facto DON’T exist and can’t do background checks.

Is it Constitutional?

Yes. In fact, several presidents did this in the past. Carter, Clinton, Bush, Obama. President Obama came up with the list of 7 nations in 2013 for his own temporary “ban” and it’s referred to as a source in President Trump’s executive order.

Is it good for America?

Yes. We are at WAR in these places. This dovetails well with President Trump’s idea to establish “safe zones” in war-torn areas (notably Syria) so that refugees can stay in their own countries and rebuild. It makes sense from several perspectives.

1) Families aren’t displaced and uprooted along with whole cultures.

2) Those uprooted cultures aren’t clashing with our culture here, as they are here not because they WANT to be here, but because they were FORCED here. There is a huge difference between those who choose to become proud US citizens here and those that have no choice but come unwillingly.

3) It’s more cost effective. It’s at least 20 times as more expensive to bring them here than help them there on the ground. The money President Obama spent to bring 100,000 here already could have saved 2,000,000 over there! It’s a cruel, egotistical waste of money and life.

Is it Constitutional?

Yes.

Is it good for Americans?

Yes.

Executive Order 13770? (Number 6)

“Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Employees”

This is the fight to “drain the swamp” you hear so much about. There is a massive number of lobbyists who were recently in US agencies that use those contacts to encourage cronyist corruption between lobbyists and public officials. To fight that corruption, this rule institutes a few new policies:

1) Employee will not lobby the agency they worked at for 5 years after leaving.

2) Will not communicate with other employees still at the agency in an official capacity where limited by section 207(c) of title 18, United States Code. Depends on the job and situation…usually 1 or 2 years and can’t be a project they worked on, etc.

3) Will not lobby at ALL with the Executive Branch during the current Administration.

4) Won’t work for a foreign government against my own government. (Includes lobbying and otherwise legal activities)

5) Will not accepts gifts from lobbyists.
6) Not participate in any legal matter they worked on for up to 2 years. (This seems to be a repeated for the most part from Number 2)

7) If a lobbyists before becoming a government employee, will not return to that for 2 years after leaving office.

8) All hiring and personnel judgements will be based on candidate’s qualifications, competence and experience.

Caveat: The pledge is a condition of employment only AFTER January 20th. Previous employees aren’t bound retroactively. This means that it’s entirely VOLUNTARY that you will sign it WHEN you are hired…or not get hired. It’s not being imposed on anyone. New applicants for Federal jobs can always work somewhere else if they don’t like it.

Is it Constitutional?

Yes.

Is it good for Americans?

Yes. (And many parts already exist in other parts of the US Code)

Executive Order 13771? (Number 7)
“Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs”

This order too has several parts.

1) For Fiscal Year 2017, for each new Federal regulation the agency involved must identify two existing regulations to REPEAL at the same time. The cost of the repealed regulations must be higher than the cost of new regulations. (It does say “all new regulations” as a whole so that agencies can share the burden…although in practice no agency is going to cut their own power while giving another agency power. Bureaucrats just don’t act like that.)

2) Each agency must give estimates of the cost to implement its regulations to the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) each year. This I think is a new requirement, and it’s not clear WHOSE cost it covers. Cost to the agency only, such as hiring new inspectors? Cost to businesses to meet new regulations? The language is vague.

3) All regulations must first be put on the Unified Regulatory Agenda for review by the White House prior to implementation. (This isn’t new, but dates back to Executive Order 12866.) What is new is that it must be approved by the Director of the OMB, who reports directly to the President.

Is it Constitutional?

Yes.

Is it good for Americans?

Yes. VERY GOOD!

Now that’s all the “Executive Orders.”

There are some “Presidential Memorandums” too.

What’s the difference? Well, the closest I can tell is that the Executive Orders must say WHERE the President gets the authority to make the order. They are also included in the official Archives. They are “official” policy for an agency on a broad scale.

The “Presidential Memorandums” are more internal memos. They are statements toward specific projects and relatively minor issues. Executive Orders supersede Memorandums in priority.

However, they are still important so I’ll summarize those too.

 

“Mexico City Memorandum”

Revokes the 2009 Memo by President Obama issued, which itself was rejecting the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act. Non-Governmental Agencies (NGOs…. “charities” basically) cannot use US assistance to perform abortions…. Returning to the pre-Obama rule.

Is it Constitutional?

Yes. Arguably it is going BACK to being Constitutional.

Is it good for Americans?

Yes, if you care about the life of babies.

“Regarding Withdrawal of the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership Negotiations and Agreement.”

Just what it says.

Is it Constitutional?

Yes. The Senate never passed it, so it was never an official treaty.

Is it good for Americans?

Yes. The thing was overly complicated and ceded our sovereignty to other countries. Good riddance.

“Regarding the Hiring Freeze”

Temporary freeze of 90 days on all Federal jobs (except the military and national security exceptions)

This will last for 90 days, at which point the Director of the OMB will report on how to cut Federal spending with long-term goals that can be approved by Congress.

Is it Constitutional?

You bet!

Is it good for Americans?

Hell yes. I’m hoping this is extended indefinitely, because attrition will reduce the Federal burden even if Congress doesn’t pass a budget…something they are terrible at doing.

“Regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline”

See below

“Regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline”

See below

“Regarding Construction of American Pipelines”

The first two just set timelines to approve the individual pipelines, provided no new information is found to block them. The Secretary of Commerce will submit a report to state how much of future pipelines in the United States can use US steel and components.

As you can see, these “Memos” are the specific implementations of “Executive Order 13766” above.

Constitutional?

All the way.

Good for Americans?

Unless you hate oil companies and US jobs. Or you are one of the railroad tycoons who tried to stop the pipelines by funding the “Standing Rock” protests with misguided hippies. Guess they’ll have to deal with competition now.

Darnit.

“Streamlining Permitting and Reducing Regulatory Burdens for Domestic Manufacturing”

The Secretary of Commerce will talk to all the other agencies and see how they can make the permit process easier for US businesses. The Secretary will submit a report to the President in 60 days.

Constitutional?
Yes.

Good for Americans?

Yes. Although we’ll see if it bears fruit.

“Rebuilding of the Armed Forces”

Within 60 days, the Secretary of Defense will give a report on the state of the force and start work on a review of our strategic goals and nuclear readiness posture. Pretty much par for the course with a new Adminsitration.

“Plan to Defeat ISIS”

The Secretary of Defense will submit to the President a  plan in 30 days on how to kick ISIS’s ass.

Not a problem with General Mattis in charge.

“Organization of the National Security Council (NSC) and the Homeland Security Council (HSC)”

Nothing to write home about.

Just shuffling committees.

(Source of Executive Orders and Presidential Memorandums on http://www.whitehouse.gov)

 

Whew!

Okay, so that’s basically all that President Trump has done so far in the past 10 days that we know of.

He is limited in his power in many ways by Congress, as the Constitution allows.

However, he has shown to be remarkable in two ways.

First, he has an energy that’s reportedly like Winston Churchill. President Trump is a dynamo, working at all hours and burning the candle at both ends. Much like the British Prime Minister, he seems to burn out staff from exhaustion trying to keep up with him.

Some say this is a bad thing (mostly those that don’t like what he is doing.)

Some love it.

I will keep judging by results.

So far so good.

That leads me to the second point.

I am pleasantly surprised by how CONSTITUTIONAL President Trump has been. It may just be the influence of a good staff around him giving him good advice. I don’t think he’s suddenly become a fan of the US Constitution and a scholar in it overnight. However the result has been a solid pace of substantially legal orders.

I know there are many that are adamantly opposed to “Executive Orders.” Most are on the Liberty side of the house who rightly fear tyranny and big government. A few are whiny Progressives who had no problem with it when President Obama did it.

The bottom line is this.

An unconstitutional law passed by Congress is illegal.

A constitutional law passed by Congress is legal.

It’s not making a law that is wrong..but making the WRONG law that VIOLATES THE CONSTITUTION.

Executive Orders are the same way. So far, President Trump has AMAZINGLY managed to stay within his Constitutional role as President for the past 10 days. He has beat President Obama by 9 days so far.

For that, I have to give him credit.

I STILL don’t trust the guy.

I still don’t LIKE the guy.

A lot of this stuff is very temporary.

He has yet to work with Congress to make lasting change work.

But, I have to give him a hand for at least trying.

He has fulfilled both of my criteria for good Presidential leadership.

He has stuck to the Constitution and done good things for Americans.

Will it keep up?

Stay tuned for the next week!

 

 

 

 

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